Pittsburgh Is An Amazing City for Cyclists

I spent most of today with my family taking in the bike scene in Pittsburgh.  Jan and I started the day by pedaling along the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) from Homestead to the South Side Flats in Pittsburgh proper.  We rode past some nesting bald eagles and ended up at a really cool bike shop (Thick Bikes) before turning around and heading back to our hotel.  Along the way, we passed the Pittsburgh Steelers training facility, the headquarters of American Eagle Outfitters and one of the coolest bicycle bridges anywhere…the Hot Metal Bridge

Jan during a rare quiet moment on the GAP.

Jan during a rare quiet moment on the GAP.

The GAP west of Homestead, heading towards downtown Pittsburgh.

On the GAP west of Homestead, heading towards downtown Pittsburgh.

Yours truly on the GAP at South Side Flats with downtown in the distance.

Yours truly on the GAP at South Side Flats with downtown in the distance.

American Eagle Outfitters from the Hot Metal Bridge.

American Eagle Outfitters from the Hot Metal Bridge.  There are as many pedestrians as cars.

Cyclists heading south on the Hot Metal Bridge.

Cyclists heading south on the Hot Metal Bridge.

I had read a lot about Pittsburgh’s bicycle friendly metamorphosis but it didn’t begin to prepare me for what I saw.  This is a serious bicycle city.  Lots of places are becoming more bicycle friendly by adding infrastructure, but Pittsburgh is different in one fundamental way.  Pittsburgh has bicyclists…lots of bicyclists.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a city where as many people cycle as here.  Cyclists were everywhere and not just one or two, either.

This isn't Amsterdam. It's Penn and 16th in the Strip, Pittsburgh PA

This isn’t Amsterdam. It’s Penn and 16th in the Strip, Pittsburgh PA

More cyclists on Penn.

More cyclists on Penn.  The bike lane would back up every time the light turned red.

People cycle everywhere in Pittsburgh, even to whiskey tastings at Wigle.  Pittsburgh is the birthplace of American whiskey.

People cycle everywhere in Pittsburgh, even to whiskey tastings at Wigle. Pittsburgh is the birthplace of American whiskey.

While we were waiting to get into Gaucho (an amazing restaurant ), we watched the world cycle by on Penn Avenue.  I wouldn’t consider Penn an exceptionally good street for cycling.  It’s not terrible, but it’s not great.  It didn’t matter.  There was a steady stream of cyclists…easily over 100 in the 30 minutes or so we were in line.   Many were utilizing the city’s extensive bikeshare network, Healthy Ride.  Unlike other bikeshare cities, Healthy Ride isn’t limited to downtown.  Bikes are available across a large swath of the city.  This is one place where utilizing bikeshare makes absolute sense.

There’s also a museum here called Bicycle Heaven that’s well worth visiting.  There’s no charge, although they do take donations.  The offerings are heavily slanted towards Chicago Schwinn’s, but this is really a fun place to spend an hour or two if you love to cycle…especially if you are of a certain age.  It was a trip down memory lane.

All in all, we had an amazing day in an amazing all-American city.   Pittsburgh is a vibrant place that is busy reinventing itself in a very good way.  Bicycles are a big part of it.  If you go, consider staying in Homestead and renting a ride at Waterfront Bike Rental.  There’s a Marriott Courtyard and Hampton Inn right on the GAP.  You can cross the Hot Metal Bridge from the GAP and go anywhere in town.   If you stay in the city, take advantage of  Healthy Ride’s 500 bikes scattered across the city in over 50 stations.  Either way, you can get where you’re going here without a car and have a heck of a good time doing so.

 

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